Research on embryonic stem cells: The time has come--maybe

Asch-Goodkin, Judith
June 2005
Contemporary Pediatrics;Jun2005, Vol. 22 Issue 6, p12
This article looks at efforts to fund research on embryonic stem cells in the U.S. Embryonic stem cells have enormous therapeutic potential for a wide range of diseases and disabilities but, unhappily, existing techniques for extracting these amazing cells kill the embryo that contains them. This situation is unacceptable to the segment of the electorate that is pro-life and antiabortion. Research has been stymied by a four-year-old federal policy that limits federal funding to a narrow group of existing stem-cell lines. In May 2005, the President's Council on Bioethics sought a way around the impasse, urging researchers to find new ways to obtain stem cells that do not involve killing the embryo. The report was issued over vociferous objections of several scientists on the panel, which, according to panel Chair Leon Kass, has more members who are pro-life than past councils had and is, therefore, more representative of the nation as a whole. California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, impatient with the impasse at the federal level, have decided to seek funding for stem-cell research within their borders. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has proposed a system of scientific self-regulation for embryonic stem-cell research, modeled on the successful approach to conducting research on recombinant DNA that the academy developed some years ago. Under the NAS proposal, stem-cell research could proceed under guidelines developed by local and national scientific committees.


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